Are BlackBerrys embarrassing? The debate continues

Are BlackBerrys embarrassing? The debate continues

Do you keep your BlackBerry hidden? Barack Obama does (Image: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

The New York Times started an online furor earlier this week with an article on the social shame of carrying a BlackBerry in a market dominated by Android phones and iPhones (even corporate clients are making the switch). In a manner akin to confessing their transgressions at an A.A. meeting, BlackBerry users are quoted describing the scornful looks they receive, and the indignity of relying on others to pull up maps, make reservations or search for restaurants:

“I’m ashamed of it,” said Ms. Crosby, a Los Angeles sales representative who said she had stopped pulling out her BlackBerry at cocktail parties and conferences. In meetings, she says she hides her BlackBerry beneath her iPad for fear clients will see it and judge her.

Of course, Thorsten Heins wasn’t going to let that go unanswered (especially not since he’s started flexing his PR muscles). Today’s paper contains a letter from the Research in Motion CEO, in which he argues that the original story ”lacks the balance your readers expect.”

I’ve just come from visiting carriers and partners in all parts of the world, and they have told me that there are millions of BlackBerry fans out there who not only find great value in their device, but also pride in being a BlackBerry owner.

Heins’s point—that the brand has a strong global following, even if it’s passé among North America’s upscale and urban—is a fair one, and we give kudos to the exec for promptly responding to the Times story. We’re just a little surprised he was able to read it, given that the paper recently killed its BlackBerry news app.

Have you ever felt embarrassed to be carrying a BlackBerry?

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• The BlackBerry as Black Sheep [New York Times]
The Maker of BlackBerry Defends Its Smartphone [New York Times]